Don't judge a book...

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend (for those of you in the US)! Obviously I took some time off last week, hence no email :) But I've been wanting to give you a little update since our last chat - turns out, I DO know how to pump a tire!! When I took my bike to the shop to get her all fixed up, we found a giant chunk of glass wedged into the tire - the real culprit for my flat. So that made me feel better, knowing it wasn't actually my fault for getting into a little kerfuffle that night.

But it made me wonder - why didn't I even bother to look for the glass? I jumped quickly to the conclusion that I had messed up my tire, and beat myself up for it (momentarily). It made me think about the assumptions we make about ourselves, the blinders our previous experiences can put on us, and the things that become self-fulfilling prophecies: I can't do this, I'm not that strong, I'm not that kind of person, this is my pattern, I'll definitely f*ck this up...

But I'm not the only one who makes assumptions about me. A few weeks ago, someone I've never met questioned my character and my intentions because of the way I look, and it really shook me up - until I realized that this assumption had nothing to do with me, but with some previous experience this person had. All I could do was respond with integrity and hope the person caught themselves jumping to conclusions. In exploring this issue further, a good friend reminded me that the way I carry myself can come off as intimidating to people (if you don't know, I'm 6' tall), and thus folks assume I don't have all the same insecurities everyone else has. Additionally, I've been told my whole life that I have angry resting face, and as recently as last week I heard that a group of people all assumed I had a stick up my ass because of it.

It's literally just my face. I'm nice, I swear.

The more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder: what's the difference between an assumption and a judgement, anyway? I mean, isn't that what we're doing? We make educated guesses about the people we encounter based on our own previous knowledge and experience - be it people we've met, TV shows we've watched, or things we've learned in our upbringing. We need to tell ourselves a story about them right away, put them into categories that feel familiar to us, compare them to ourselves or to other people we know [of]...

At the end of the day, it's our own anxieties that create these boxes for other people to exist within. Our fear of not being good enough wants us to fall into a ranking system so we feel better knowing where we stand in comparison. With reluctance to get too political, I'll just say this: I'm pretty sure this has a lot to do with what's going on in our world today; a long history of people making assumptions, of covering their own fears and insecurities with foregone conclusions that make them feel more in control. And thus, bringing more mindfulness and awareness to the world - beginning with ourselves - can be one of the most powerful tools we have in turning this ship around.

If an assumption is reaching a conclusion without any proof, the judgement is close behind with a labeling of good, bad, right, wrong, better than, less than...

In my yoga classes I often encourage people to observe themselves - body, breath, thoughts - without judgement or evaluation. Simple observation. Can we do this off the mat as well? Can we get to know people without throwing them into a box right away? Can we detach our previous experiences from our new ones and give folks a chance to be their own people, separate from those they remind us of?

Of course, as I've pondered this topic the last few weeks I've caught myself jumping to a million conclusions. I am lucky to spend my time with an incredibly diverse array of people, from my social circles to my yoga classes, and notice my insecurities come in and label people; it's usually if I feel somehow threatened, or jealous, or if they have traits that I wish I had myself. But, just as I hope folks don't assume I'm a bitch because of my face, I'm working on really seeing people, beyond the labels and the "types" of people I think I know so much about.

Food for thought. Notice the stories you tell yourself about people - including yourself - this week...

xo,

m.

Β